Tackling Childhood Obesity

According to a government panel, women who maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy and those who breastfeed their babies may just help their children to avoid obesity. These suggestions were just two out of 70 recommendations included in the panel's report. The findings were released by First Lady Michelle Obama who has taken on the issue of childhood obesity as her focus for activism during her husband's time in office.

Obesity Epidemic

Mrs. Obama outlined her ideas on how to tackle the issue, "For the first time, the nation will have goals, benchmarks and measurable outcomes that will help us tackle the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family, and one community at a time. We want to marshal every resource—public and private sector, mayors and governors, parents and educators, business owners and health care providers, coaches and athletes—to ensure that we are providing each and every child the happy, healthy future they deserve."

One in every three U.S. children weighs more than is healthy with many of them obese. This places those children at future risk for a variety of illnesses including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Some well-credentialed health experts put it that our children may not live as long as their parents.

Healthy Weight

Mrs. Obama believes that the problem can be solved within a generation so that babies born now will be at a healthy weight as they come into adulthood. The report issued by the panel says that if childhood obesity rates should drop to 5% by the year 2030, this goal would be realized.

The report, along with its recommendations, is only meant to provide helpful advice. However, Congress has played its part by changing guidelines for vending machine items and food served in schools. Though there is already legislation pending that would allocate $4.5 billion more than the current budget for programs on nutrition over the next decade, the Obama administration has asked that this budget be doubled.

The report states that a woman's weight prior to pregnancy and the amount of weight she gains during her pregnancy are the two most significant factors in determining before a child is even born, whether or not he will end up obese. Studies suggest that one in every five children is overweight or obese before he turns two. Of infants younger than 6 months, 6% are overweight. This figure is up from 3.4% between the years 1980 to 2001.

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